Weekly Report: Week Twelve

Another week done. I feel like I personally am hitting a wall, but it doesn't seem to be affecting EG, luckily. I still feel bad that I'm not doing anything aside from handwriting with FB. I also finally gave in and acknowledged that PC is at least somewhat high-needs. I had made the connection when she was much younger, but because I had planned to carry her, breastfeed on demand, and so forth, it didn't really register. Now that I still cannot leave her alone so that I can make dinner? It's wearing on me.

EG just keeps steaming through her work.

Language arts: EG is continuing to do ten minutes of penmanship each morning. She's finished Step 10 in AAS Level 5. She also started JAG this week, and finished Unit 1 (Nouns). Finally, she finished up her rewrite of "The Honest Woodsman" for WT2.

Math: EG completed Level 13 of drill, and came close to beating Level 29. She's finished Key to Measurement Book 3, and started Book 4. She also finished the review pages selected for Key to Decimals Book 3. I'm having her work through all of Key to Decimals Book 4 because it's more application of skills than straight skills - checkbook registers and more. EG also did all of the Verbal Problems associated with Hands-On Equations Level 2, and did the first lesson of Level 3. The way she just "gets" math continues to surprise me, even though I suppose it shouldn't by now.

EG chose the Spanish-American War from her SOTW reading for writing her summary this week. She also read You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? and Seabird.

The sound unit was finished in physics this week; next week, either color and light or water physics. I liked the open-ended questions in the Science in a Nutshell activity journals.

In Latin, EG finished up Chapter 10 and started on Chapter 11. She also worked on Lesson 5 in Vocabulary from Classical Roots 4, and did three pages in logic. Memory work involved adding the next poem to the repertoire.

Master's Academy & co-op went well; missing band today thanks to a cold on the part of EG. She also had to miss swimming last night.


Secular Thursday: On Programs & Co-Ops

Let's talk about homeschool programs. Various called co-ops, "schools," enrichment programs, and other monikers, they're the groups where your child learns something in a class taught by someone other than their usual teacher. We currently participate in three different ones, and honestly? None of them are ideal. If one was, we'd be attending just one!

One day a week, EG and FB attend Master's Academy of Fine Arts. It's organized. I can drop them off, and I don't even have to get out of the car to drop them off or pick them up. (This is big; it means PC can stay asleep in her carseat.) It's focused on - surprise, surprise - fine arts. The kids learn about art, music, and drama, as well as develop skills in those areas. There are parties around holidays. It's like the fun part of public or private school! What's the problem? It's religious. Very religious. We have to have debriefings some weeks. The content is religious, anyway. The people there, while supposedly fundamentalist, are some of the nicest people I have met in the homeschooling world. After being exposed to others at homeschool band (see below), I have started to think of them almost as moderate. It's all relative.

Another day, we go to a local secular co-op. I love the co-op model. I even like having the opportunity to teach a class or two. It's not organized. I can drop EG off and leave, but I have to go inside to sign a piece of paper both upon arrival and departure. This week, that meant twice that I woke up PC to walk through the rain and sign a piece of paper. It's not focused; there's no guarantee of what classes will be offered except for what I myself might decide to offer. Did I mention that it's not organized?

Finally, we attend the local homeschool music program, for band. It's not organized. It's full of quiverfull types, down to the matching clothes and fifteen passenger vans. It's nominally religious, but this mainly comes through in the email list, so far. What EG is learning is basic band material, nothing more or less. That's not the case in the chorus (which EG dropped after one week), and maybe it's not true in the higher levels, either, but so far, the music at least is not too religious for our tastes.

As you can see, I have issues with all of these in some way. My ideal program would be, above all, organized, in case you hadn't guessed. But what else would I want in the perfect program?

There would be a standard course on drawing for grades 1-4, based on Drawing with Children, one for grades 5-8, based on Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and one for grades 9-12, based on Basic Drawing Techniques and Basic Figure Drawing Techniques. Additionally, there would be a standard course for each level group on singing as part of a group. This course would also include the basics of musical theory.

There would be "elective" art classes offered in the hour before the core events - painting, sculpture, and mixed media - divided by level groups. For the logic and rhetoric stage students, there might be more specialization – photography, perhaps, or visual design/architectural drawing. Rather than offering further classes in music, there would be a choral group for each level group. Older logic stage and rhetoric stage students might choose to put together smaller, more specialized choral groups. Instrumental instruction would not be offered, but ideally parents would share their "finds" of instructors with each other. In time, a band could perhaps be formed.

The remainder of the program would be focused towards preparation for academic competitions. Grade level appropriate math clubs would be available for students in fourth grade and up. Speech and debate would be a major focus: a basic public speaking class for the youngest, focused mainly on memorization and recitation; a preparatory level class for fourth and fifth grade age level students; competition in speech competitions via National Junior Forensics League for sixth through eighth grade age level students; and competition in debate (with speech events remaining available) through National Forensics Level for rhetoric stage students. Additional competitive groups might eventually include Model UN, Odyssey of the Mind, and Science Olympiad. Students would also be encouraged to form less structured study groups for the individual science Olympiads, foreign language exams, and other national academic competitions.

Programs would begin at 12 noon and continue throughout the afternoon. As much as possible, concurrent classes would involve different age level students, so that a given individual student could participate in all offered activities, or at least maximize their involvement.

I also wouldn't label it secular. If pressed for a label, I'd call it inclusive. No, there would not be any specific religious content, but neither would there be specific atheistic content. Nonsectarian. Yes, we secular homeschoolers have a tendency to feel that we must cluster together, show the rest of the homeschooling world that we do, in fact, exist. Yes, many Christian groups feel that they are a persecuted minority. In our attempts to define our spaces, however, I think we eliminate excellent opportunities.

No on has to discuss Darwin to master the art of drawing. Jesus doesn't have to be present in math competitions, just pi. The quest to find the like-minded for biology courses and the worldview through which history is presented is important; it's also important for the parents to find likeminded colleagues. There are few enough homeschoolers with a focus on academic excellence, though, that I feel perhaps we ought to band together. Regardless of religion.

Realistically, I don't see a program like this succeeding in my community, even if it were to start. There are too many well-established programs in my area; people don't want to leave the familiar, nor do they want to overbook their children. I'll continue to cobble together a program, relying on one program for one set of skills, another for likeminded friends. And secretly, I'll imagine a world where the people at band, at co-op, and Master's Academy could all get along. We'd have to make sure not to bring up religion, science, or politics... but we're homeschoolers. Surely we can come up with something about which to talk!


Weekly Report: Week Eleven

This week would make a great example for a "typical week of school" for us. Nothing extraordinary, nothing lousy. Somehow I personally have managed to feel "behind" - I owe comments and emails to various people, and I owe myself some quality time with books, not to mention my mattress.

Daily, EG did penmanship, math drill, memory work, Latin, and spelling, as well as working in three different math books and on her week's writing project in Writing Tales 2.

In Latin, she's almost completed chapter 10, and in spelling, she's finished through step 7 in Level Five. She did several pages in both Key to Measurement Book 3 and Key to Decimals Book 3. She also finished Level 2 of Hands-On Equations.

The big news for the week is that EG finished her first grammar book of the year, Editor in Chief A1!

Earlier this week, I posted EG's latest writing project. While working on her summary for history, I encouraged her to try using some of what she had learned in WT2. She managed relatively well.

She read two chapters in SOTW 4, and chose to summarize the section about the next-to-last czar, Alexander III. In physics, she read a bit about sound, and did four activities from the "Sound Vibrations" Science in a Nutshell kit.

This week, EG read The Terrible Wave, The Story of Thomas Alva Edison, and Susan B. Anthony. She and her father continued reading in The Hobbit.

FB worked on writing "F" and "E." He also listened to the The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches multiple times. His current obsession, though, is the music from Les Miserables, especially the first four or five songs.

PC is well on her way to earning a different blog moniker. She gives terrifically fierce hugs, so she may become TH. She also is running at times.

I'm feeling somewhat down this week because of the situation with the house we want to buy. Yes, we're still in limboland, almost two months after I first spotted the house. We should be doing several things to our house in the next one to two weeks. They'll make our house nicer for as long as we're here, but they also will make it much easier to sell the house. I hate feeling out of control, and it's even worse when I feel dependent on the decisions of total strangers. I wish I could write them a letter, and tell them how much we would love the house and take care of it.


EG's Latest Writing Project (from Writing Tales)

This is EG's rewrite of "The Story of Regulus." She had to work hard at not accidentally writing the original phrasing during the rewrite. A lot of use of synonyms here!

     Once, across the sea from Rome, there was a large city called Carthage. The Romans didn’t like the Carthaginians, and finally war began between them. At first it was very difficult to determine who was stronger. The war went on for a long time.
     The Romans had a general named Regulus. He was taken prisoner. He was very ill and dreamed of his home. He knew he would probably not return. While he had been captured, as a general, he knew that the Romans were making progress towards winning the war.
     One of the rulers of Carthage came to talk to him. “I want to make peace with Rome,” he said. “I will let you go if you do what I say.”
     “What is that?” asked Regulus.
     “You must try to make your rulers make peace, and if they won’t, you must come back,” the ruler said.
     The ruler let Regulus go back to Rome, for he knew a Roman would keep his word.
     When Regulus got to Rome, the people of Rome rejoiced to see him again. The rulers of Rome, called Fathers, asked him about the war.
     “I was sent to plead with you to make an accord, but that wouldn’t be smart,” he said.
     The Fathers tried but didn’t succeed in getting him to stay. His family asked him to stay.
     “No,” Regulus said. “I will not break my promise.” He went courageously back to jail, and was indeed killed.
     This is the type of courage that built the greatest city of ancient times.


Just Another Manic Monday

Curriculum. Let's talk curriculum, specifically: curriculum I love. I've been meaning to do a post like this for awhile now. Fortified on a good breakfast (whole wheat tortilla, scrambled egg, black beans, and salsa, plus orange juice, iron supplement, and two cups water), and blessed with a spontaneous early nap, I find myself with the time to write this post. In no particular order, then, curriculum that I especially love, either because EG loves it, I love various features of it and its depth, or both.

Life of Fred mathematics. EG loves that it's a story. I love that many of the problems are word problems, that they often require EG to pull in material from previous lessons and use it in slightly different ways, and that it's written to the student. One of the biggest problems I had in school as I reached higher levels of math was difficulty reading the textbook; I had become used to the teacher explaining it, so if I didn't understand her explanation, I was out of luck. EG is already learning to look primarily to the text for any necessary explanations. Yay!

Hands-On Equations. EG clearly has a gift with mathematics. I love, though, that this gives her the opportunity to still "play" with some higher concepts and have an easy introduction to algebra. She's already making leaps beyond the materials, and that's okay. She calls it the fun math, and as a result, is easy to start algebra in a few weeks. I can't really ask for much more than that.

Writing Tales. EG sped through the first book last spring, and she's similarly completing the second book at a faster pace than written. It's thorough, though, and forces her to review grammar, not to mention it's improved her alphabetization skills immensely, thanks largely to the dictionary-required vocabulary pages. EG told her father last night that "The drafts in Writing Tales are the hardest thing I do in school!" Her father wisely replied, "Good! It must be a lot of fun, then!" It does challenge her, and I'm glad for it.

Lively Latin. Latin that has actually gotten done daily! Better yet, it's secular, and the layout is visually appealing. EG can have difficulty with very cluttered pages - Latin for Children was a (visual) disaster for her. We don't study the history in depth but I like that it's there to read. Now that she's older, I like that there is an online option for games - they make a nice 'reward' that I can give her. I also like that I could see going much slower with it with FB and PC, starting as early as late second grade.

Our science, history, and literature are pulled together by me, so I don't have specific curriculum to recommend. Otherwise, while the rest of our choices work for us, they aren't especially beloved. I do have to give special mention to All About Spelling, with which I have a love/hate relationship. It has helped EG improve her spelling immensely (though no doubt time has assisted too), but we both hate the day to day drudgery of it. I can't wait until two or three years from now when EG is able to do 90% of her written work on the computer and spell-check comes to our rescue, though I never thought I'd be saying that.


Weekly Report: Week Ten

Since the teacher was having a birthday yesterday, EG worked hard to complete her week's work by Wednesday night. The goal was to avoid doing school yesterday or most of today, especially since she has testing today for band. The only things remaining are finishing up the week's literature selection, Around the World In Eighty Days, which is almost complete, science lab tonight, and reciting memory work once today. We're both enjoying our little "autumn break."

Speeding through Latin continues. This week, EG began and completed Chapter 9. I will have her work with the online vocabulary games today and over the weekend before she adds new words next week.

Our overall language arts program is going well, too. Ten minutes of penmanship each morning, two steps in All About Spelling Level Five this week, and three activities in Editor in Chief A1. In Writing Tales 2 this week, EG worked with the story of Regulus. Her rewrite was much more extensive but she still needs to make sure that, when writing from a key word outline, she doesn't just rewrite the original sentences.

Hands-On Equations was picked up again for the first time since the summer. EG loves the work in Hands-On Equations and calls it the "fun math." Considering she likes math overall, that's extremely high praise. She did Lessons 8 through 12, which is most of Level 2, introducing "star" which is essentially "-x." She also did some review in Key to Decimals Book 2, took the practice test for Key to Decimals Book 3, and did twelve pages in Key to Measurement Book 3, which is covering area and volume. She beat one level of drill and got much closer in her other level.

IEW Geography-Based Writing Lessons are officially ditched. I don't feel bad about it at this point - it's an ebook, so I only paid $10, and it did give her more practice at rewriting from a key word outline. Neither of us were enjoying the curriculum, and I thought the Holling C. Holling books, while well-written, were a poor choice for teaching, for example, taking factual notes. This is a skill that EG could use to develop, but I think we'll used SOTW 4 and some of our other resources for that. EG read The Wright Brothers and enjoyed it, as she does most of the Landmark books. She also read Minn of the Mississippi, and Chapter 12 in SOTW 4, about Ireland and South Africa.

This week will commence the exploration of sound in science. EG read Adventures in Sound, and they will do five or so of the activities from the Sound Vibrations kit, part of the Science in a Nutshell series, tonight.

EG did memory work each day, and will review it again today. She did three pages in Logic Liftoff, and took the test for Lesson 4 in Vocabulary from Classical Roots 4. We'll use her results in the first four tests to make flashcards for specific words.

EG also resumed taking stroke clinic twice a week at the Y, in addition to swimming during FB's tumbling class, so she's swimming three times a week. Co-op is still going well. EG had her rededication for Girl Scouts Monday as well. Piano lessons were skipped this week owing to it being my birthday. No Master's Academy this week, either, which is what truly made it possible to take yesterday and today as very light "off" days.

FB had a good week as well, as we started on the next handwriting book. He's very motivated to work on handwriting, even if he's not with regard to anything else! He had a break from swim lessons as well, which restarted last Saturday. He continues to love tumbling and is talking about doing gymnastics when he's too old for his tumbling class. I actually think it would be a good fit for him. He of course still wants to play basketball, too. He'll finally be old enough for a team this winter.

PC now has four teeth. In the space of about seven days, she acquired a stuffy nose, had a night of upset tummy and vomiting, and three teeth popped through her gums. Her latch completely deteriorated! It's improving now, thanks to careful work on my part. She's eating more and more, though it's still not overly exciting to her like it was to her big brother!

And I got a new secondary brain for my birthday in the form of an iPhone. I've also spent time poring over books about staging your house to sell (unsurprisingly, most buyers don't want to buy a schoolroom, so staging the sunroom will involve making it Something Else) as well as real estate listings for comps to the house we want. We'll probably take a look at three to eight properties to compare, which also gives us time to do some necessary work on the house before we could list it. It's not a great market right now, but we're thinking positive. It's a great house in a great location, and has several things a buyer wouldn't expect to get in our neighborhood. Here's hoping!


Weekly Report: Week Nine!

Quick, EG: if we have 36 weeks of school to complete, and we just finished week nine, what percentage of the school year have we finished?

As any scholar that's finished Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents will tell you, that's 25%.

That's EG's big news for the week: finishing the aforementioned title. I, being the harsh supervisor of scholars that I am, had EG do all five tries at the Final Bridge. Yes, she had passed the Bridge long before the end of the week, but despite a few tears, we persevered. She also completed Key to Measurement Book 2 and started Key to Measurement Book 3, and finished seven selected review pages in Key to Decimals Book 2. Starting next week, she'll have a slight break from LoF while she does some more extensive work with measurement and reviewing decimals and percents further. After about four weeks, she'll resume learning more about Fred in Beginning Algebra. Eek!

Latin continues to go well for EG, as she's almost completed Chapter 8 (out of a total of sixteen chapters). She does need to solidify her command of the most recent vocabulary, so she's been told she can play vocabulary games on the computer this weekend. Since she doesn't often get to play on the computer, this ends up being a treat for her. She also continues to do penmanship daily, and work in Editor in Chief A1 thrice a week. She and her father read less in The Hobbit this week than previous weeks, but I think she has renewed enthusiasm - she was reminded yesterday that after The Hobbit, there are three more books she can read! As far as her own reading, this week she read Pinocchio. She observed that she didn't think it was the same story as the Disney version, which led to a discussion about how Disney modifies their source material into a story that they feel will make a better movie and sell more tickets. Her model for Writing Tales was about Sir Walter Raleigh this week, and the grammar consisted of when to make a new paragraph. Hooray! We've been needing that lesson, I had noticed in recent weeks.

EG and Smrt Mama's Captain Science are finishing magnetism this week. They'll actually do the last three labs in just a little while, when the McLernin family comes over for dinner & Dollhouse. EG also read in The New Way Things Work and Paul Fleisher's Waves about magnetism and its applications.

History this week was chapter eleven in SOTW 4, and EG also read Elizabeth Blackwell, Helen Keller (both COFA biographies), and Tree in the Trail. We continued using IEW's Geography-Based Writing Lessons in lieu of writing history summaries. I'm not impressed by the story sequence charts and am tempted to skip that Unit altogether, in favor of more expository writing.

It's official - EG has memorized The Gettysburg Address, as well as "O Captain! My Captain!" I feel like my duty as a parent is nearly completed with the memorization of the latter, which is one of my favorite poems. She's still doing daily review of the other poems she's memorized, including "Charge of the Light Brigade" and the first eight poems in the first level of IEW's poetry memorization program. We'll start back focusing on their poems on Monday, now that her history memory projects are complete.

The nitty-gritty: she's working through Vocabulary from Classical Roots 4 two or three times per week, and doing a page or two out of Logic Liftoff thrice a week.

FB chose a new puzzle at Borders today (EG got the next book (The Black Cauldron) in her current series (The Pyrdain Chronicles.), and is happily trying to put it together. It's a beautiful pink horse scene. He resumes swim lessons in the morning and completed his HWT pre-K workbook today! We'll start work on the K level book next week. He told me today that he "just can't deal with" phonics lessons, despite wanting to learn to read. Go figure. Since we've been doing handwriting steadily once more, I'll think I'll wait another week of just handwriting, then add math. Two weeks of math and handwriting, and we'll cautiously approach phonics. I think when he does decide to learn to read, he'll take off with the skill. I can only lead the horse to water, though; can't force it to drink!

PC ran down the hallway the other day. Noooo. She also correctly identified the cat on the cat food packaging. "Daaaaeeeee!" Well, PC, the cat pictured was not, in fact, our cat (Daisy), but close enough. She really likes the cat.

I am toying with the idea of making resolutions for my birthday, rather than New Year's Resolutions. I'll be turning 29 on Thursday (no, really, I was born in 1980), and I wonder if I would do better with my goals if I capitalized on my favorite season of autumn. It might just be worth a shot. I'm also busy making lists, and then lists of lists, trying to decide what to do with our house should we have an offer accepted on the house we'd like to buy. I know enough to stage the house and make as many repairs as possible, but we also have a limited budget within to work, so I have to prioritize. My goal for this week is to eliminate as many things as possible that require $50 or less, and identify professionals for the remaining tasks. If anyone who lives near me knows of reputable exterior painters, interior painters (just one wall, but it's tall), or HVAC professionals, please, let me know!


Secular Thursday: Why I Recommend The Well-Trained Mind First

Let's get real. Homeschooling can be lonely. Being the secular homeschooler in a group of conservative Christian homeschoolers can be lonely. Equally lonely, though, is being the curriculum-using rigorous homeschooler in a group of secular homeschoolers. There's a lot of flitting on the edges, not feeling like you quite fit in any group.

Because I've homeschooled from the beginning, I've become something of a "go-to" gal for public school mamas with whom I'm acquainted, when they first begin thinking about homeschooling. They want book recommendations, and I recommend The Well-Trained Mind first, every time.

I admit that there is a selfish motive driving it slightly. The more secular, liberal Christian, or non-Christian homeschoolers of other religious beliefs there are that use WTM-inspired methods, the less alone I feel! That's not the main motivation, though.

I also know that there are other, more general homeschooling books that are written from a secular, mainstream perspective. Many of these, though, tend to overly praise unschooling and other relaxed approaches, and spend a few paragraphs lambasting any approach that uses methods from institutional schools - which tends to include neo-classical and classical education.

I recommend The Well-Trained Mind first, though, because I want these neophyte homeschoolers to see what's possible. I want the mom who is considering homeschooling because she wants something better to see just how much better is possible. I want to encourage my fellow secular homeschoolers to reach high. There's no shame in reaching for the stars and falling short. There is, I feel, shame in only reaching for the light switch.

The Well-Trained Mind can give people hope. It's not really necessary to know about the history of homeschooling in detail. It is necessary to know what steps to take to be legal in your state. It's not helpful to look at huge books of resources in the beginning. It is helpful to have a list that is winnowed down to some of the best. There are excellent resources that are not recommended in WTM, that is true, but it's a very good start. Above all, The Well-Trained Mind can help the new homeschooling parents feel that there is a plan and a vision. They'll likely modify it, but they can begin, knowing that there's something to work towards... other than the required 180 days on our state's attendance sheets.

Secular Thursday Special!

Today, we'll have not one but two secular Thursday posts, brought to you by the trip Smrt Mama and I took to our local (religious) homeschool store. To be honest, this post was going to be very different. It was going to be a photoblog to encourage other secular or non-fundamentalist Christian homeschoolers that yes, they should visit their local Christian homeschool store, because it's possible to find good materials there. Unfortunately, I had the second or third negative experience I've had there recently. The details aren't particularly important, but store owners shouldn't insult their customers to their face, in front of other customers. Sorry that I'm fat and don't wear cosmetics.

Smrt Mama and I, about to head into the store. Careful, fellow shoppers. We're armed and babywearing. Sadly, I look enormously overweight. I gain weight first in my face, and lose it there last. :(

It's not actually called "Character Corner" any more, it's "Homeschool Hangout," and there's a bigger "Homeschool Hangout" store in the next suburb over. I guess when you have a good corner on the market, there's no reason not to expand.

PC is clearly thrilled about going into the store.

After the long recent thread at the WTM boards about modesty, I couldn't help but snap a picture of this.

Smrt Mama and Babypie check out the history and literature books stocked in the store.

Shortly after this, the store's owner told us that he didn't like us taking pictures in his store, even for a personal blog. We're not sure what the problem was. Possible suggestions are that he thought we were casing the store for later shoplifting. Personally, I've spent quite a bit of money in his store over the years... I don't really see why I can't take a few pictures of myself and my friend in his shop. He was also rude about it and about us. Disappointing.


Food, Glorious Fall Food

Breakfast is the same every day: quiche for EG, granola with milk for FB, oatmeal for the adults. Lunch is lentil soup.

What's for dinner...?

Monday: either kids eat free night at Moe's, or leftovers, as we have quite a few.
Tuesday: Roast, carrots, and potatoes
Wednesday: Black bean burritos
Thursday: Roast, mashed potatoes, vegetable from the week's CSA
Friday: ??? I'll have to consult Smrt Mama, since Friday night is Dollhouse & dinner.

Saturday: Oh, joy, oh bliss - we're going to Henry's!
Sunday: chicken and baked beans, fruit


Weekly Report: Week Eight

Stagnant weeks are what I call those weeks where you think, "I know things were accomplished this week, but I cannot put my finger on a single one!" Writing the weekly report helps me find at least a few things that did get accomplished, which is especially helpful when you feel like there are so many more things that could have been completed, or at the very least, done better.

Let's start with Purple Child. She's almost started running, which is exhilarating for her, and frightening for me. She's eating more food, though still not with a great deal of enthusiasm, and she had her first reaction to a food. Mangos make for unhappy bottoms, it seems.

FB... I feel so much like I've been slacking a bit with him, but it's so hard to tell when he's enjoying what we're doing and when he's merely humoring me. We did read lots of books this week, including several new ones (Sounds All Around, Paul Bunyan, and Jack and the Beanstalk), as well as his current Your Big Backyard magazine. He also read the number 500 off a construction sign. He said "Five hundred babies!" instead of "Five hundred feet!" Why babies? Because of this:

EG "passed" her first song at band today. I'm not exactly sure what the testing and passing all mean, but it seems to be a good thing, and it's helping us with our fledging attempts to get her started on setting her own goals. In other music-related news, she's flying through her Primer level piano books. Her teacher says she definitely has some natural talent. I don't know much about musical talent (not being talented musically myself), but I do see what I would term unusual behaviors with regard to music - it appears to come very easily to her and she's understanding some parts of it almost intuitively.

EG finished her rewrite of "Diamonds and Toads" in Writing Tales 2 and completed three activities in Editor in Chief A1. She had a week's break from spelling, and did some pages from Vocabulary from Classical Roots 4 in lieu of it. She'll start spelling again next week as she begins All About Spelling Level 5. She also continues to practice cursive penmanship for ten minutes each day, and she read Heidi this week.

EG also had a great math week. She beat two different levels of drill, and finished all of the new material in Life of Fred: Decimals & Percents. She's still working through Key to Measurement Book 2 and doing well. Next is the Final Bridge! I'll be having her complete at least two of the attempts given for the Final Bridge, just to assure myself that she knows the material.

Latin is going quickly - EG finished chapter 7 this week. She's continuing to review her memory work and needs just a few days more with the Gettysburg Address, though I did think she might have it finished this week. She read George Washington Carver: Peanut Wizard and began Elizabeth Blackwell for biographies, and read chapters nine and ten in Story of the World Volume 4. Physics was more work with magnetism, including some supplementary reading. EG also did three pages in Logic Liftoff.

Finally, we're continuing to use IEW's Geography-Based Writing Lessons in lieu of other history writing. We've almost completed the first set of nine lessons, which are all based on Paddle to the Sea. We'll finish those by Wednesday, and start on the next set of nine, which are based on Tree on the Trail. It's been a good supplement and given her some different "language" for various ways to improve her writing, but I wouldn't want to use it as a sole writing curriculum for a year.

Master's Academy is still going well for both kids, and EG is enjoying her co-op classes. I have to talk to the co-op coordinator about discontinuing math club; it's a little silly to bother when I just have the same two kids that I have for science on Thursdays, after all. I'd like to teach a class in the spring, though - possibly using Ellen McHenry's The Brain - and next autumn, I really want to offer a class on evolution. That's the update on me!
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